Waitress jumps off Daytona Beach Pier to save boy from drowning

19-year-old injured after landing on sandbar

By Loren Korn - Reporter

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A 19-year-old woman was injured Saturday night when she jumped off the Daytona Beach Pier to save a young boy who was possibly drowning, she told News 6.

Hanna Pignato said she broke her foot and injured her back when she landed on a sandbar.

Pignato, a waitress who works at Joe’s Crab Shack on the pier, told Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue officers that she jumped into the ocean to save the 8-year-old.

"My initial thought was, 'Go get in the water.' Everybody was freaking out and I'm thinking in my head, 'That kid is going to die because no one is in the water,'" Pignato said.

Officials said tide was low, which is why she hit a sandbar when she jumped.

"I couldn't go and help him at that point. I was so shocked that I just kept swimming and I stayed afloat," Pignato said.

Bystanders and a lifeguard rescued the boy while another bystander rescued Pignato. The waitress said Monday from her hospital bed that she doesn't regret what she did but she does realize that her injuries could have been much worse.

"I felt like I made a mistake for my body because what if I was paralyzed? And my mom, what if she lost me?" Pignato said.

Ocean Rescue Capt. Tammy Malphurs advised against bystanders trying to save someone unless they have proper training.

"Her heart was in the right place but we discourage anyone to enter the water to save someone unless they're trained lifeguards. We also discourage people to jump off the pier without being properly trained because of the many different safety hazards," Malphurs said.

Beach officials said the boy was saved and taken to a hospital as a precaution. No other details of his rescue were released.

Pignato underwent surgery Sunday and is recovering.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help her pay for the medical bills. 

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